Texas teacher now fugitive after family's drug trafficking and murder charges
EL PASO, Texas — The U.S. Marshals Service is looking for a former Texas elementary school teacher whose sister and brothers were charged in a murder-for-hire plot linked to drug trafficking in Juárez.
Monica Velasco, 42, was indicted by a federal grand jury. She is wanted on federal charges of conspiracy linked to racketeering, drug trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to kidnap in a foreign country.
Last fall, Velasco’s sister and two brothers were charged in connection to the 2008 murder of a man and his two daughters in Juárez.
"She was an elementary school teacher, a quiet lady and I guess she got wrapped up in all this with her family," said Deputy Scott Williams of the Marshals Service. "She's afraid of going to jail, but her family said that she is more afraid of going to Juárez."
In January, the U.S. Marshal Service’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force nearly captured Velasco at a home on Safford Court in El Paso’s Lower Valley, but she left before deputies arrived, a U.S. Marshals spokesman said.
Velasco was a teacher at Thomas Manor Elementary in the Lower Valley. In September, she abruptly quit her job and moved out of her home on the West Side, the Marshals Service said.
That same month, Velasco's sister, Dalia Valencia, and her brothers, Emmanuel and Samuel Velasco Gurrola – allegedly part of the Velasco criminal enterprise – were accused of kidnappings for ransom, extortion, auto theft and drug trafficking.
The three siblings pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go to trial in September.
Murders in Mexico
In October 2008, Francisco Maria Sagredo Villareal, 69, was shot in his Juárez home, according to El Paso Times archives.
His daughter, Cinthia Judith Sagredo Escobedo, 40, was fatally shot outside a Juárez hotel the next month.
Two days later, Ruth Sagredo, a nurse practitioner working in El Paso, was killed in Juárez by gunmen while she was driving a car in the funeral procession for Cinthia Sagredo.
Ruth Sagredo was married to Samuel Velasco. Her death was possibly linked to domestic problems, Ruth Sagredo’s lawyer had told the El Paso Times
Authorities suspected Velasco was still in El Paso as of early February. She was featured on wanted signs on billboards on the East Side.
Velasco had family on the East Side and her family owned a shoe store on Alameda Avenue, officials said.
Mother accused of aiding her
On February 5, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force arrested Velasco’s mother, 63-year-old Josefina Gurrola after Gurrola allegedly tried to withdraw money belonging to Velasco.
An investigation found that Monica Velasco and her mother had been allegedly communicating with disposable, or burner, cellphones, since at least November, according to a criminal complaint filed by a deputy U.S. marshal.
Gurrola told investigators that Monica Velasco "realized after her brother and sister were arrested that she would be next. Gurrola stated that Velasco went into hiding after they were arrested because she was scared about going to jail," the complaint stated.
U.S. Marshals deputies confronted Gurrola after she and a grandson went to Ysleta Independent School District offices allegedly in an attempt to file paperwork on behalf of Monica Velasco to get a check from her district retirement account, the complaint stated.
When questioned at the U.S. Marshal's offices, Gurrola allegedly gave deputies various answers — that the money was for Monica Velasco, that the money was to pay for lawyers in Tucson for her daughter, and that the money would be for lawyers for her other children, according to the complaint.
The complaint stated that investigators for some time had been trailing Gurrola, who would drive around, stop at different locations and stay in her vehicle.
Gurrola allegedly told deputies said that she would wait for people who would bring her notes with information about Monica Velasco, the complaint stated.
According to the complaint, Gurrola told deputies that she was handed the YISD documents for her daughter's retirement funds by a little girl standing by a curb.
After asked the girl's name, the street and why the child was in the cold, Gurrola allegedly admitted that Monica Velasco gave her the documents on January 31.
The complaint stated that Gurrola stopped answering questions after she was asked if she had ever received money at a McDonald's restaurant on behalf of her son, Emmanuel Velasco.
"Stop, stop. I do not want to speak to you all anymore because you do not believe anything I say," Gurrola told investigators, according to the criminal complaint.
A bond hearing for Gurrola was postponed February 11.
Photos: St. Louis area mug shots